What does a government agency do when it finds out that it has unspent money? Does it give the money back to taxpayers? Does it find another department with more important needs? Or does it find some way to spend the money — to make sure it can get the same money next year?
If you made the third choice, you might have a bright future ahead as a bureaucrat. If you made the first choice, you’re living your life on Fantasy Island.
In Camden, N.J., the city finds itself with $63,000 burning a hole in its bank account, because the grant from which the money comes expires on Sept. 30. Here’s the story. The state Department of Criminal Justice made the grant to the County Prosecutor’s Office, which didn’t know what to do with the money, because its “community justice director” — yes, that’s the title — was laid off in May. So that office agreed to give it to the city, which is required to spend it immediately. Why? Here’s the key: